After more than a year of grinding political campaigns, the presidential election is only weeks away. I heard a joke the other day that asked if Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are in a boat and it capsizes, who survives? The punchline answer was, “America”, and I must confess that I laughed. The reality is that gallows humor does give us something to laugh about. Emotionally speaking, it helps to deflect what feels like a devastating gut punch when our world is falling apart around us.
The first presidential election I can remember was in 1952. I was 7 years old. I remember enjoying the animated ads on TV that proclaimed, “I like Ike!”. When my father would be talking politics with his friends, he’d trot me out and have me tell them who I wanted to win. My enthusiastic response (“I like Ike!”) always brought smiles to their faces.
For the next 8 years, as I was growing up, I saw President Eisenhower many times on TV, and once in person, as I watched his motorcade pass by. In those years, I was not concerned with politics, per se. But each time I saw him and heard him speak, I felt pride in my nation and confidence in his strong and proven leadership.
Since that time, I have witnessed the performance of 10 subsequent individuals who have occupied the office of President of the United States of America. This is not a history that I have read about in books. This has been part of the life I have lived. I think that qualifies me as having a deeper and more meaningful perspective than much of what passes as informed commentary today.
I have never before seen a presidential election like the one in which we are currently embroiled. I have never seen a sitting (“lame duck”) President so intimately involved in his party’s campaign efforts as to slam their opponent with personal attacks. And not only the President, but the First Lady. Both of them have been busy slinging mud in the media, doing everything they can to paint a picture of Donald Trump as an utter moral reprobate.
In the past, sitting presidents (and their wives) have had the dignity of statesmanship to at least appear to stay out of the business of politics – particularly dirty politics. As the President of all Americans, previous presidents wisely and honorably did their best to remain above the fray. But not Obama and Michelle. They’ve gotten down and dirty, and the saddest thing for me is that to many Americans, their behavior seems to be acceptable.
The dirt is one thing. The lie is another. Trump’s enemies say he is unfit to be President because of morally despicable things he has said. And yet, nothing they accuse him of can be separated from their own hypocrisy. And I wonder how anyone can consider Trump’s accusers to be morally superior to him. When I think of society’s values today – the things we see in movies, the subjects of comedy routines, how overt sexuality has become commonplace and the level of crudity we tolerate as the social norm – aren’t they all being a bit hypocritical? Are we voting for a real human being or are we putting a chaste fantasy up on a pedestal?
Trump has never held public office. He has never had a fiduciary relationship to the people of this nation. He has never held the public trust. What he has done is succeeded as a businessman.
On the other hand, Hillary has held the public trust. Under her leadership Americans have died as a result of her incompetency – incompetency she lied about to cover up. As a politician, her success has mainly been in getting into office. She smiles, says how much she’s going to do for everyone…but she’s long on talk, long on excuses. She offers a fantasy, sustained on lies.
While Hillary’s husband was Governor of Arkansas and President of the United States, scandal after scandal plagued him, and yet nothing ever stuck. Accusers were paid off, witnesses disappeared, and people who were key to investigations mysteriously died. These prevailing scandals earned Mr. Clinton the moniker, “slick Willie”. I stand amazed that any rational person would think the wife of this impeached president would be any better than he was. The fact that they consider Trump disqualified by things he has said, while excusing Bill for things he’s actually done takes the nub of the debate well beyond the pot calling the kettle black.
The thing that troubles me most is the generalization that they are both equally bad candidates, equally bad choices. That was the point of the joke I began with. If you really believe they are equally bad, then they must also be equally good — merely two sides of the same coin. Are you willing to make this decision by the toss of a coin?
As the song says, “Time goes by so slowly, and time can do so much”. The winner of this presidential election will only be in office for 4 to 8 years. But long after that person is no longer serving, their appointees will continue to influence law and government. The most important and influential presidential appointees are the Supreme Court Justices, who may remain in their position for the rest of their lives. Over time, a president’s judicial appointments will potentially be their greatest impact on American culture and history. This fact alone prompts me to take the long view.
Out here on the left coast, in the People’s Republik of Culifoania, conservatives have looked for a third option, in the form of the Constitution Party’s Darrell Castle. Our new “open primary” has gone a long way to ensure that voters have a real choice between the top two Democrats. And with options like that, it’s even harder for third parties to even qualify for official recognition. Still, if the Constitution Party had 55 presidential electors, the state would recognize Darrell Castle as a write-in candidate. Without those 55 electors, write-in votes for Darrell Castle will not be counted.
As of October 12, according to http://www.constitutionpartyofcalifornia.org/faq.html there have only been 10 declarations for write-in electors for the Constitution Party. So much for a conservative choice in a state known for its fruits and nuts.
Bottom line, this election doesn’t give us a clear choice between pure political philosophies. But based on that, I do not see our choice as simply between two comparative evils or two comparative goods. What I see is a choice between a man who has been in private business all his life, administered a large organization and succeeded at that, vs a woman whose entire career has been in public life. And for all that time, she has made smiling promises on the one hand, and lied to cover up her blunders on the other hand. Everything about Hillary is based on perception.
How people vote will come down to what they believe. And what people believe seems to be rooted and grounded in what they want to be true. What do you want to be true?
I believe that in a totally different political world, some 2,000 years ago, Jesus told us we needed to vote when he said, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s”. Caesar represented the governing authorities. Today in America, we elect those governing authorities, and they are supposed to represent our values and our interests. That’s what representational government is all about. It begins with the responsibility of every citizen to vote.
Christians especially are called to vote rationally and wisely. When we are confused, Scripture tells us to pray for wisdom and the LORD promises to supply us with wisdom. (“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” – James 1:5)
And while you are seeking God’s wisdom, remember that the enemy is using deceptions and lies to confuse you. The Bible teaches that the enemy prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. We are to be watchful and sober-minded (1 Peter 5:8). Finally, 2 Thessalonians 2:8 tells us that when the lawless one is revealed the Lord Jesus will kill him with the breath of his mouth.
Understand this symbolism. In John 1 Jesus is called the Word. And 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us, “All Scripture is breathed out by God…” These verses are talking about truth. Jesus described himself as the truth. When he spoke before Pilate he said, “…For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” (John 18:37).
Ephesians 6:17 calls the word of God the “sword of the Spirit”. Revelation 19:13-15 reads: “He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.”
In the end, the truth will destroy the lie.
In the meantime, Christians, be wary of deception. Don’t believe the lie.